Looking for all the world like Kermit the Frog in drag, the 'Dolg' timed the pants off the ball with a glittering array of groundstrokes to send Robin Soderling off on the next Qantas flight with his tail between his legs.The Ukrainian, wearing a lurid green outfit, blazed blistering blows from the back of the court to send the Swede into a fit of histrionics before doing the one thing every player has been itching to do all week: outwit the ever-smug Jim Courier.
The flame-haired Jim Davidson-lookalike has developed quite a reputation for his witty courtside interviews/comedy acts, and joked that Dolgopolov would undoubtedly be a little star-struck at coming face-to-face with one of his boyhood heroes.
"No," was the Dolg's swift retort. "I am not old enough to know you!" Courier smiled, but inside the two-times winner at Melbourne must have been simmering with fury.
The 22-year-old, named Oleksandr Dolgopolov Junior up until May last year, began playing tennis at the age of three under the stewardship of his namesake and father, and has now beaten his first top-10 player in Soderling. It was a feat made all the more remarkable after he revealed he was "playing at 30 per cent" at the start of the match.
The fourth seed appeared to be auditioning for a role in a Swedish thriller as he produced the most theatrical performance from anyone bar Francesca Schiavone in a display which left his camp up in the stands utterly incredulous.
Witness Soderling below attempting to drink the sweat from his shirt soon after hopping up and down on the spot following a flurry of mis-hit forehands. And that was a fairly subdued reaction compared to some of his antics during the match.
Indeed, Dolgopolov kindly credited Soderling's temper tantrums and general lack of focus as having "gifted him a way back into the match", graciously deflecting the praise heaped upon him.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray made Jurgen Melzer look toothless in his fourth-round match and will next have the challenge of overcoming the pony-tailed baseline slugger, who has already become the first Ukrainian since Andriy Medvedev in 1995 to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne.
Murray melted Melzer with consummate ease, dropping just five games in the entire match as the Austrian perplexed the crowd with his insipid display and extraordinary ability to make his racquet stand up like a dancing dog.The
Murray conveniently recalled "beating Dolgopolov comfortably" in a junior competition a few years back when prompted to preview the pair's quarter-final clash. "You wouldn't have remembered it had you lost though, would you Andy?" smirked Courier, to which Murray simply responded "no". It was another scintillating exchange.
During the usual orchestrated banter a microphone mysteriously appeared in front of comedian Billy Connolly, sat nonplussed in the crowd - and Murray's compatriot snubbed American Courier despite desperate cajoling.
"Just leave me alone!" pleaded a less-than-amused Connolly, who rejected outright the suggestion that he should "ask Murray a few light-hearted questions" on the spur of the moment.
The miserable git. Cliff Richards would have done it.
TWEET OF THE DAY: "Dear Serena, don't be stupid. Make the right choice. The grass may look greener on the other side, but it's not. Signed, Your conscience." Dear Serena, don't be stupid. Make the right choice. You may think tweeting to yourself in the third person is cool, but it's not. Signed, Tramlines.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Unfortunately we (paired with Patty Schnyder in the women's doubles) lost today, but on the bright side there has been no doping control! We can leave tonight quickly for home..." Anna-Lena Groenefeld is suspiciously overjoyed to escape a doping test...
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "I've enjoyed watching this blond pony-tailed man play. He is one uniquely talented player - small in size, but full of powerful and brilliant shots. He might have not been consistent enough though, and at times made lots of errors." Iris can't seem to decide whether she thought Dolgopolov played well or not, but he is at least unique in her eyes.
POTENTIAL UPSET OF DAY NINE: Stan Wawrinka (pronounced va-VINK-ah, as the 25-year-old will inform you at the slightest blunder) produced winners and aces as if they were mere regulation as he annihilated Andy Roddick in the fourth round, and even the great Roger Federer, his Swiss compatriot and Olympic gold medal-winning doubles partner, could cop a hiding if he can replicate that form.
CAPTION CORNER: Yesterday's caption winner goes to Wynotmeme for this effort: "Ban the nets - too many players have been caught by poachers and the species must be protected once and for all."
And for today, post your best efforts below to fit this image...
And finally - you're probably thinking to yourself 'It's about time that all the funniest clips from week one of the Australian Open were collated into one epic video'. Well it just so happens that we have done exactly that!
From Caroline Wozniacki batting (in the loosest possible sense) to Novak Djokovic dancing (again, in the loosest possible sense), we've got it all. Check it out...
- Robin Soderling